Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit and VA Disability
More than occasionally this question comes up, so I felt that this would therefore be an excellent blog post topic for this week!
Steps in Applying for Aid and Attendance
Associated steps and information-
It is a 3 step process!
1. Gather all required documents
2. Complete the necessary VA forms
3. Mail the completed application with associated documents.
Not too bad, right? Keep calm and organized!
Details on the qualifications and application process are below.
Eligibility for Aid and Attendance Pension:
You may complete the aid and attendance pension benefit questionarre online to determine eligibility.
Any wartime veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of war, is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension.
A surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a wartime veteran may also apply. The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially.
Medical Qualifications for Aid and Attendance Benefit:
• A wartime veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, taking care of the needs of nature, etc. Blind individuals, patients in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity, or residents in an assisted living facility also qualify.
• The application requires a medical evaluation from a physician, current medical diagnosis and treatment information, net worth and net income, along with all current out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Financial Qualifications for Aid and Attendance Benefit:
Applicants must have on less than approximately $80,000 in assets, this excludes their home and vehicles.
How to Apply for Aid and Attendance
Step 1: Be organized! Gather all the necessary documents
There is a great deal of information that needs to be gathered and prepared when applying for the Aid & Attendance.
They have compiled a list of the documents needed, as well as links to download some of the VA and Government Forms online. See link above!
Often times this seems overwhelming to many! However try to relax, take your time and read all the information carefully. Take things one step at a time. Often times making a checklist also helps! Everything needs to be read slowly and carefully to ensure that you clearly understand what is required and the exact process.
You may submit a one-page VA Form 21-0966 (INTENT TO FILE A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION AND/OR PENSION, OR SURVIVORS PENSION AND/OR DIC) which will get your claim into the system before you send in the complete application. This is optional, but it will help establish a date for retroactive payments once the benefit is awarded. If submitting an Intent to File, the full application has to be submitted within one year to insure the validation of VA Form 21-0966.
To apply for the Aid & Attendance Pension, you will need the following documents. Make a checklist to guide you through and prepare all documents before moving forward and doing your filing.
• Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214). If you need to request military records, you can either fill out Standard Form 180 or, you can visit the National Archives website for further instructions on how to request military records.
• Copy of Marriage Certificate and all marital information (unless applying for veteran only)
• Copy of the Death Certificate (surviving spouses only).
• Copy of current Social Security award letter (the letter that Social Security sends at the beginning of the year stating what your monthly amount will be for the following year).
• Net worth information, including bank accounts, CDs, trusts, stocks, bonds, annuities, etc.
• Proof of all income from pensions, retirement, interest income from investments, annuities, etc.
• Physician statement that includes current diagnosis, medical status, prognosis, name and address, ability to care for self, ability to travel unattended, etc.
• Nursing Home Status Statement. (If veteran and/or spouse is in nursing home or assisted living facility) and Statement of Occupancy from the facility (ask the facility for this document).
• Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
• List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year.
• Banking information for direct deposit of A&A monthly payments (include a voided check).
• If you are a court-appointed guardian of the veteran or surviving spouse, a certified copy of the court order of the appointment is required.
• Employment history (does not apply if applicant is over 65).
Step 2: Complete the necessary VA Application Form for filing
Once you have this information compiled, you will need to obtain and complete VA Form 21-527EZ and/or VA Form 21-534EZ for Special Improved benefits with Aid & Attendance.
These forms can be downloaded in PDF format online! See website above!
Once you have all this information, follow the instructions carefully on Form 21-527EZ or Form 21-534EZ to file for your Aid & Attendance Improved Pension.
If you need assistance with filing your paperwork, you can contact the VA or utilize their forums where you can ask questions about your application.
Explore all the available options and services provided through the VA and service agencies to find the options that are right for you and your specific circumstances.
Step 3: Finally! Mail the application!
In mailing your application, it is strongly recommended that you send your completed application via Certified Mail "Return Receipt" to help avoid the potential of the VA stating that the application was not received.
Keep a copy of the entire application for your own records as well as any other correspondence to and from the VA.
The VA has established various processing centers across the country that are solely dedicated to processing applications for Improved Pension.
This is important! When mailing your application, you need to make sure that you send it to the appropriate center assigned for the state where the applicant resides (the applicant is the veteran or spouse).
Listed below the correct mailing addresses by state as of March 2018.
AL, AR, IL, IN, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, OH, TN, WI
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: Milwaukee Pension Center
PO Box 5192
Janesville, WI 53547-5192
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, IA, ID, KS, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: St. Paul Pension Center
PO Box 5365
Janesville, WI 53547-5365
CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, PR, RI, SC, VA, VT, WV
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: Philadelphia Pension Center
PO Box 5206
Janesville, WI 53547-5206
Disability compensation benefits are available to veterans who suffer from a disease or injury that was caused or worsened by their military service.
Individuals are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, but even if it has been many years since they were on active duty, as they are still eligible for these benefits.
How to Apply for Veterans Disability
There are several steps involved in the process!
Here are some ways to apply for disability compensation:
• You can apply online for veterans disability benefits using the Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP).
• You may apply by mail, by completing the Application for Veterans Compensation and/or Pension, which can be found at the VA Forms Website, and send it to your local VA office.
• You can apply by telephone by calling 800-827-1000. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the TDD line at 800-829-4833. If you live outside the U.S., call 412-395-6272.
• You may visit your local VA office (Department of Veterans Affairs).
Who Can Assist with an Application?
Several areas can be explored for support in application completion!
You may also get assistance in preparing your application from a veterans organization or from a disability or elder care attorney .
You may visit your state’s veterans service office for assistance.
When to Apply
Time is of the essence, so apply as soon as you know you are disabled to ensure the earliest possible effective date for your benefits.
Submit your application even if you don’t have all the required documentation ready as you can always submit it later.
Documenting Your Medical Conditions
As part of the application, you will need to list all your illnesses or injuries for which you are requesting disability compensation.
Be very specific when doing this!
Provide the approximate date you began having symptoms. Know that for every disability you list, the length of time it takes to process your claim increases.
List only those disabilities for which you suffer symptoms and/or have received a medical diagnosis. This will help speed up your claim processing.
Submitting Medical Records
Obtain any medical records that support your claim of disability, so that you can submit them along with your application.
However, do not become stressed if you don't have any or all of your medical records. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) can request them on your behalf.
How Long It Takes to Get a Decision ?
Unfortunately this can take some time...
It can take anywhere from months to three or more years for your initial claim for benefits to be processed and for an individual to receive a decision from the VA. So, timely submission is important!
Using "Fast Track"
You can reduce your wait time by using the VA's "Fast Track" or "fully developed claim" program. This program, instituted in 2010, allows you to speed up the processing of your claim by submitting all of the medical records with your application. That way the VA doesn't have to take the time to collect your records. You have up to a year to submit everything, but it is to your benefit it to submit all medical evidence as soon as possible.
Remember: You are also eligible for Fast Track if you have claimed only 1 or 2 disabilities, even if you don't submit all the medical evidence yourself.
Special Fast Track Status
Also, Veterans who suffered military sexual trauma, have post-traumatic stress disorder, or are former POWs are entitled to priority in claims processing.
In addition, if you are a Vietnam veteran making a claim for disability based on exposure to Agent Orange, you can use the VA's Agent Orange Fast Track Claims Processing System.
Homeless veterans and veterans in significant financial need are also eligible for fast track processing.
Fast Track is available in most VA offices, but I strongly encourage all individuals to check with their local VA office to see if it has implemented this program!!!
Assistance with Benefits and Forms Completion:
For all of the above and more...
If you need further assistance and wish to seek out the advise and guidance of an attorney, here are some points to consider:
In order to independently assist in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for VA benefits, an individual must be accredited by the VA.
An attorney’s practice of advising veterans about VA benefits not involving a specific claim does not however require accreditation.
If an attorney advises clients regarding eligibility requirements, the attorney must be accredited.
This advice constitutes preparation of a claim even if the attorney does not file the claim because it is given in regard to a specific application for benefits rather than general advice not related to a specific claim.
VA regulations specifically permit interns and paralegals to assist in preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims for VA benefits, but only under the direct supervision of the attorney and with the specific written consent of the claimant.
VA attorney accreditation information can be found at http://www4.va.gov/ogc/accreditation.asp.
I truly hope that the above information helps to guide many through this often stressful and arduous process! If you require assistance in finding a reliable and cost effective disability or elder care attorney, please message me via the contacts tab! I am always happy to help!
primary source: veteran aid.org